Friday, 5 December 2008

It's Friday, it's fashion!

I vaguely recall promising to run a regular fashion feature on this blog... just to annoy the lads, really. (Incidentally, I am the only one who thinks it's a bit unfair that Jess Carter-Morley always looks great in the Guardian's Weekend Magazine's fashion slot, but Alexis Petridis is nearly always made to look an idiot?)

For this week's contribution I could have gone with Sarah Brown's beret - shouldn't really have worked but she pulled it off, didn't she? - or the fact that Victoria Beckham is managing to shift her new line of designer dresses for close to £2k a pop, despite the credit crunch. But that would be frivolous of me.

So instead, this week we will focus on the Guardian's not-at-all shocking-if-you'd-thought-about-it-for-more-than-five-seconds revelation that Primark, Asda and Tesco are, according to War on Want, paying workers in their garment factories in Bangladesh as little as 7p per hour. That's why your jeans cost £3.

Finally, this site, the Sartorialist, is totally addictive.

16 comments:

The Scumbag said...

She looks like a convent nun during Bastile day celebrations.

Kerry said...

That's good, isn't it?

Old Holborn said...

Jesus Christ!

What the hell is Gordon's "beard" doing wearing a beret??

Next. Go down to Primark and tell the hoards of Somalis that they should be boycotting the place and shopping at Edinburgh Mills (cardgan £129.99) instead.

I LIKE the idea of kids being paid 70p a day. My kids get bugger all.

Hookers And Gin said...

There ought to be a minimum wage law guaranteeing them the 18p they demand.

18p! Mindblowing.

Hookers And Gin said...

No, wait - that's 8 hours every day. 40 hour 5 day week gives around 28p. Still mindblowing.

thebristolblogger said...

It's a bit unfair to single out the 'economy' brands for this. All the posh clothes worn by you morally superior wealthy people are just as dodgy.

Earlier in the year Newsnight actually bothered to spend my license fee on some proper investigative journalism - rather than getting a well-paid middle-aged Oxbridge educated male to argue with another well-paid middle-aged Oxbridge educated male on the assumption that we're too stupid to notice it isn't news - in Kazakhstan.

Here they discovered that their cotton industry with a global reach is totally reliant on child labour.

And rather conveniently, for the brands approached, it's allegedly impossible to trace the source of cotton through the markets at present.

So that means your £2k Victoria Beckham dress or your Karen Millen is just as likely to contain the work of child labourers as something in Asda and Tesco.

Shame that.

Remember Remember said...

Now you've started printing money, everyone will be on "7p/hour" wages.

Of course, you could cut public sector wages, pensions and expenses to support the productive hands that feed you but you don't have the foresight for anything so clever.

Shirking From Home said...

If there's someone who is worth some sympathy in cesspit Britain it is Sarah Brown.

Kerry said...

BB - it was Uzbekistan.

http://peopleandplanet.org/navid4965

And you have no idea where I buy clothes from, so I'd appreciate it if you didn't make assumptions based on zero knowledge. I could dress entirely in clothes from Bishopston Trading for all you know.

Bristol Dave said...

I have no problem with buying £3 jeans from Asda and feel no guilt whatsoever that the people making them are only being paid 7p an hour to make them.

Have you actually been to India? Because I have. I spent 5 weeks there on an IT project. I saw the rich big buildings, and I also saw the slums, where people are so desperately poor they can barely feed themselves.

India has no kind of welfare state. If you do not earn money, you do not have any. The only way of feeding yourself is growing your own food or getting a job to pay for it. Hence you have people working on the building sites whose job it is to hold a ladder for people climbing it, even if there's not anyone on the ladder. They'll stand there all day, holding a ladder, for a pittance, because they need the money. On some sites, you'll have a ladder holders-mate. They probably earn similar wages to the factory workers.

If you ask ANYONE there who actually works in these factories and building sites they'll tell you they work there because it's better to earn 7p a day than 0p a day.

All these people desperately wringing their hands over the injustices of the low wages of these workers need to get a f**king education about the place and some common sense.

Kerry said...

Dave asks: Have you actually been to India?

Yes, three times, and Bangladesh (which is where the story was actually about). I've visited textile/ garment factories and met women working as seamstresses in remote villages. I've also been to Bangalore and Gurgaon if you want to talk about modern India. I've been to the slums.

Tell me Dave, why can't we pay them a decent wage and pay, say, £5 for the jeans? To try to argue that people (children) are 'willing' to be exploited when the only choice they have is a choice between working for poverty wages in horrendous conditions, or being totally destitute is a pretty specious argument.

In Britain kids used to be willing to go up chimneys or down the mines or work 14 hour shifts in factories; doesn't make it right, does it? So why is it OK in India? Because you're entitled to your cheap jeans?

thebristolblogger said...

Kerry, I've now scoured your website and I see no photos of you at bus stops or stranded in the middle of traffic islands with a strange trouser problem or sporting a cheesecloth shirt. I'm therefore prepared to make the statement that you do not dress entirely in clothes from Bishopston Trading.

Of course where you get your clothes from is irrelevant. That's my point. Targeting the economy brands is pointless. It's all of 'em that are implicated in this.

If anything the economy brands should at least be congratulated for passing their savings on production directly on to us the consumer rather using the inflated profits that are possible from clothing to fund a daft industry of pointless designers, marketing executives, brand managers and people generally so stupid it defies description.

I also see War on Want haven't produced any evidence for their claims ...

Old Holborn said...

Kerry, I've been to India more times than you've eaten hot Tofu.

It's an amazing place.

Despite poverty, they have the nuclear bomb, like us. Despite poverty, they are set to overtake us in the G8 and despite poverty, they don't pay idiots to sit at home watching Trisha.

I hear they also now own Jaguar and Land Rover.

Good old minimum wage eh?

Northern Lights said...

So go and live there then if life is so much better

Bristol Dave said...

Tell me Dave, why can't we pay them a decent wage and pay, say, £5 for the jeans?

We can - I'd be happy to pay £5 rather than £3, I think everyone would. But who decides what a "decent" wage is? People need to get a sense of perspective. Lunch over there cost around 40p. The second-line support IT Professionals I was training (in Bangalore as well) were paid the equivalent of £1 an hour. How much do War on Want think the factory workers should be paid? It's pretty hard to motivate people to be doctors or nurses if you can earn more sewing buttons on jeans.

To try to argue that people (children) are 'willing' to be exploited when the only choice they have is a choice between working for poverty wages in horrendous conditions, or being totally destitute is a pretty specious argument.

Specious, but unfortunately true.

In Britain kids used to be willing to go up chimneys or down the mines or work 14 hour shifts in factories; doesn't make it right, does it? So why is it OK in India? Because you're entitled to your cheap jeans?

No, because they consider it OK. If it was that much of a calamity they wouldn't do it. This isn't the West waging war on India like those jumped-up Trots at War on Want would have you believe. The Indians are doing it because there's no alternative. We used to send 14 year old kids up chimneys and no longer do because over time we've changed our ideas on what is morally acceptable - India just haven't yet. But it is not up to us to do it for them.

Kerry said...

BB I think you're conflating two separate things - the production of the cotton and putting together the finished item. It would be quite easy for designers to confirm that they do not use child labour or people on poverty wages to make the finished item; I accept it is more difficult to prove the provenance of the cotton, which is where the fair trade mark is important.

And actually, if you look at my earlier post about landfill and the Primark effect, you'll see that cotton doesn't really come into it - it's man-made fibres.

Finally, it's wrong to suggest that more expensive clothes are only more expensive because people pay over the odds for designer labels, marketing, etc - of course there's an element of that, and the mark-ups are in some cases ridiculous - but there is definitely an issue of quality too, in fabric, in cut, in detail, and in finish. In most cases, not all.